Not everyone has a perfect professional past.
Even executives have glitches in their career at some point in their lives.
Do you have gaps between jobs or have you ever been fired?
Do you know how to put yourself in a positive light to potential employers despite negative issues from the past?
The key is to avoid dwelling on unfavorable subjects or at least minimize the problem areas. A few tips:
- Exude a positive attitude. That may seem like a simple answer, but having an upbeat outlook will show you are confident and not overwhelmed by past issues. Interviewers understand the world of work and don’t expect executives to have a flawless career.
- Prepare interview responses. Expect questions on any blemishes from your past. Create concise explanations and don’t over-explain anything as it may send up a red flag. By being prepared with reasonable responses, you will avoid stumbling around trying to figure out what to say.
- Choose your words carefully. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Choosing the right words can reduce the magnitude of the issue. Practice your responses with a friend or career coach to get their reaction/comments to the effectiveness of your choice of wording.
- Never, ever lie. Addressing issues and answering questions directly is the best strategy. That being said, you don’t have to elaborate or go into lengthy details of a situation. Lying or trying to cover up past errors has a huge potential of backfiring on you.
- End on an upbeat note. Avoid appearing bitter about the past. Articulate the learning lesson from any negative work experience. And end with what you want the interviewer to remember about you – how much you’ve gained from your experience, how your accomplishments match their requirements, and how you are a great candidate for the job.